Archive for January, 2009

Sixty-Minute Patriot

At Writers’ Bloc, five terrific poems were passed around for comments. Two of them were mine. Kudos to SP and TC. Tomorrow during Superbowl halftime and maybe before,  I will read again the copies I brought home and savor them as the predictable top flight creations they are; like a rotisserie chicken from Schnuck’s — which I also brought home.

Kudo’s to Kate Hawkes at Trout Lily Cafe in lyrical downtown Springfield for the establishment’s winning the Mayor’s Award for local business best serving local visual arts — or something like that — in a Thursday night “fancyschmantz” at the Hoagland. It’s significant honor for a kid who co-owned a bean-sprouts-and-lentils cafe on West Monroe in the 70s called No Baloney. Trout is a giant step for her talent, and the monthly appearance of a new featured artist on her south wall gives all a reason to visit . . . . at least once a month. January’s featured artist was Delinda Chapman. This month, it’s Joan Burmeister — both delightful hummin’ beans and skilled visual artists; worth your time for a look-see.

The writers gathered therein this day were pretty much the same as last Saturday. The usually are, and that’s okay, though unfamiliar scribes “in search of” are always welcome.

Knowing what was gathering half a block south on Sixth Street, I departed about noonly and boogied down to the peace rally on the corner of Sixth at Monroe. Diane has just put down her packet of posters and was holding two, facing light traffic when I arrived. I told her I had described my interface of last week with Honey & Quinine readers, and the feedback was so good, I’m committing to making the event part of my Saturday colander. Technically speaking I think we can classify “Standing Up” as physical exercise, and I can always use some physical exercise, though I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no Jack La Lane.

When I explained what I had shared here, including my appellation of “peaceniks anonymous,” because I didn’t know if the effort had an official name, Diane pointed out that none of us are anonymous to each other — though we may be to passing cars and pedestrians. We also have an official name:

Vigil For Peace

She also pointed out that we no longer encourage passers by to honk (I’m talking horns here) when they drive by. The signs inviting honks are no longer displayed. Though some don’t mind what seems to me as disturbing as the peal of a bell, others have felt otherwise. That said … when we hear a horn, most of us extend an arm with an upturned thumb at the end of it in their direction of the affirmation, from honkees, so to speak, to honkers.

Some of the assemblage was headed off to a showing of Frost and Nixon — and you thought no Republican Party enthusiasts carried peace signs? As the spider said to the transexual Mexican Miss Muffetoza: No WHEY, Jose.

The weather was as perfect as the conversation and physical exercise.

Live long . . . . . . . . . and proper..


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Yesterday, I received a call from the bank that I was OVERDRAWNDANGIT! I understand most people reading this go for decades, forever even, without bouncing a check, but I measure my time in months. It’s always “crunch” time late in the month for me, but considering how few checks I write, this business of keeping my account in order should be as elementary as third grade arithmetic. And the fact I can’t deal realistically with elementary math helps explain why I can’t deal with elementary life.

I promised the fellow on the phone I would bring a paycheck I’ve had for three weeks from Springfield Business Journal over and deposit it in 10 minutes. If I had deposited the check three weeks ago when it arrived, I would not have received the phone call. After grabbing that check, brushing my hair and changing into “street pants” I was off and running.

Off and walking to be precise. My bank is only two blocks away, and I always hoof it if I don’t have other errands. Along the way I traversed several snowy sidewalks untouched by residents. With only a few inches on the ground it was nothing worse than slippery; no more difficult an impediment for forward motion than tall grass.

I had shoveled mine Sunday minutes after the first few inches hit and Wednesday after the second few inches hit. Each time took less than 20 minutes. I may let my grass grow long sometimes, but I believe in shoveling my sidewalk, walkway to the porch and lower part of my drive.

During the walk to the bank, I was impressed by how more homes to the west of me had clean sidewalks and how few homes east of me had received the same attention. It was like the further one goes toward our city’s “wrong side of the tracks,” about 12 blocks east of me, the less attention is given to sidewalks. Even businesses whose driveways and back parking lots had been plowed by professionals had sidewalks untouched by shovels. Even the Baptist church on the corner was untouched. There’s a law that says businesses MUST shovel their walks, but it’s apparently more convenient to risk a law suit from an injured pedestrian than it is to shovel snow. Go figger.

I could have saved myself some challenging terrain if I had just walked in the clean streets, nicely cleared by Wednesday morning. When the weather is better, throngs of young people walk the streets, just outboard of cars parked curbside, successfully avoiding chance encounters with dog feces left behind by dogs owned by walkers of dogs. I’ve been waling poo-strewn trails for a long time, so I was not concerned about infection from what might come home with me on my shoes. Sidewalks are the civil way to go.

From another perspective, so is the fading courtesy of shoveling snow. As I walked home, I wondered why people I know — to wave to — hadn’t bothered with what should be a common courtesy. Fear of physical debilitation? A heart attack? The media remind us this time of year of the perils of shoveling snow. They tell us the signs to watch for when you’re doing the shovel thing. I pay no attention to it. That’s because I believe snow shoveling is a way to exit this life without sacrificing your reputation as a worthwhile hummin’ bean.

“Larry Jones of the 300 block of Zed Street was found lifeless in the front yard of his home yesterday lying on top of a snow shovel on a partially cleared sidewalk.”

It seems a whale of a lot better way to go than blowing your brains out or even building a charcoal fire on your grille after turning off the furnace and air circulation, finding a nice book to read and closing the door. What a give away that would be, aye?  I mean like, HELLOOOOO.

Many good people clear their sidewalks because of pride of citizenship, their care for people they don’t know who pass by at all times of the day, and who may (or may not) appreciate the courtesy. Still, I can imagine someone thinking, shovel in hand and taling into the snow thinking to himself, “NERTS! I should have stayed inside and watched Oprah!” I can also imagine someone thinking to himself, “Thank God. My pants are on and I’m not drifting out in a drug-induced fog. What a civil way to go.”

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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If I had a job, which I don’t, I would have compromised my work efficiency rating by calling in “sick” this week so I could witness with my ears, the incredible history that played out over the airwaves (some on WGN but most on WUIS) as the people of the state of Illinois bade a unanimous “up yours” to the former governor of Illinois. I have listened to every word spoken by Rod B., the Illinois Senate and all who talked to a microphone as the music eminated from UIS and GN. As I write these words, GOVERNOR Patrick Quinn (Hallelujah! There are no unbelieving deists Illinois.) is speaking to the media — all of them which is why I use the plural form — “There is a reason God put our eyes in the front of our heads.” There is joy here.

I’ve dodged obligations because I could not pull myself away from the radio while I did the AeroKnow thing and wished I were writing poems instead.

At a little past 11 a this morning, as I listened to the Kathy and Judy Show on WGN (I am a “girlfriend” and happily so) word came in that Illinois service trucks were parked by “Govorner Rod Blagojevich Welcomes You to Illinois.” signs and doing nothing; just waiting for the word to reach them from Springfield. When it appeared the station was going to take calls from callers after 1 p as the rebuttal speech came, I switched to WUIS and listened to every word; not be because I don’t like WUIS. Whenever the morning show is on that station, there at WGN I am and often beyond.

Are you as joyous? I hope you are.

I had an inch of Wild Turkey left over from Christmas. I was saving it for something special and vowed not to touch it until the final vote in the Senate, and after that I decided not to touch it until Pat Quinn was sworn it. When it was reported Quinn had been sworn in his office, but would be meeting with legislators and press soon, I held off on the Turkey. . . . . . waiting.

When Quinn appeared and the interfacing with the media began, I broke out the Wild Turkey, continued working with the aviation history, savoring, sipping along the way before returning to the old computator keyboard as the NEWS conference continued. In graduate school, my news director/boss at WMAY HATED the traditional term “press conference” because in the context of the time — mid-70s. We weren’t all writing for print. I was working for broadcast and purty darn happytebe.  Dan Walker lived in the Executive Mansion, and Ritchie Daily’s father held court in Chicago’s city hall — Bill was right. He was correct, of course. I’ve not used the phrase “press conference” since.

The Turkey bottle is empty. Dang shame.

I could use a half a bottle more.

BRAVO Governor Quinn! Kudos to all who served so well in bringing this necessary action to peaceful resolution.

I for one intend to celebrate future January 29s as a holiday. Emancipation comes in many forms, you know.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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Coffee at 10:30

If I were making meaningful money, I’d be having a lot more fun settling into my new routine.  The past few weeks have been incredibly productive in wrong directions, all aviation and poetry related.  At Saturday’s Writers’ Block meeting a friend asked me if I had considered writing for the Chicago Tribune as a stringer. I’d never given the possibility a thought, but that’s on my “Look Into This” list for Thursday. I’m obsessing with the idea of completing a major index project during rotten weather when I’m not about to hit the streets with my car in its current condition. I’ve done nothing but cull aviation articles from some recently donated magazines when I’m in the living room before and after dinner. When I’m in the office, I”m bearing down on the indexing project to the point of excluding the model building. I will make time Thursday and Friday to write two poems.

An acquaintance writes two poems a day at her poetry blog. I’m a mite amazed, but that’s possible for her. I believe two a week are possible for me.

I drank coffee in the middle of Charlie Rose’ excellent interview with former president Jimmy Carter because no matter what I do between Rose and Scrubs/Sex and the City because all three programs are essential to my sanity. This evening during dinner, I watched two current season Scrubs on ABC. Before I go to bed about 3a, two hours of the day will have been spent watching that show in syndication and prime time network. It seems the current series has lost some of its edge. There’s more vanilla than salsa going on this season.  Still it’s the best comedy in play this season.

The nutty snow is falling again. They predict another two inches. That will keep me off the streets with my car at any rate until things begin to melt. That’s okay. I have indexing to do. Lots and lots of indexing. I sense a reward waiting for me. These indexes are generating correspondence with aviation enthusiasts in Australia and England, Arkansas and Massachusetts, and that’s just over the last week and a half.  Small consolations.

I am soooooo ready for warmer weather!. I still have wine and Wild Turkey; Ramen noodles through next Wednesday, soup through Friday. I’m back eating Peter Pan Crunchy again. It’s my new “ice cream” for times when I have to eat something cheap. Crunchy on a knife and a banana were luch today. Less expensive than a can of Campbell’s Fajita Chicken, and almost as tasty.

When the State Journal-Register called to tell me about my recently expired subscription, at the phone person’s suggestion I signed on to subscribe via Easy Pay which deducts payments automatically. In return for doing this, they’re going to send me a card good for $25 of gasoline. The Wednesday SJ-R delivered to my front door today was as thin as I’ve seen an SJ-R, even a Monday SJ-R.  I’m concerned about the paper. I’m a jounalist. I am morally obliged to subscribe. I have valued aquaintances working there.

Here, with the grace of God, go I.

Live long . . . . and proper.

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I’ve been fiddling with fonts and cutting and pasting here, and the result is inconsistent font appearance. Sorry for the variations. It is all intended to be Times New Roman.

Of Arrow Sock and Soul

By Job Conger
written Friday, January 23, 6:18 pm

Traversing boldly
through time and space
to the purgatory of the lost:
arrows shot into the air
and still in lofty flight
beyond Longfellow’s oak,
the pristine forms of
feather, wood and steel
zoom on
through stoic infinity.

It is the place where solitary socks
purloined by churlish fate
from dryer and clothesline
consort estranged
from partners’ company;
a sorry world
of screaming
to the vast, unhearing void.

And so it is my destiny as well
as my honed words
that seek to penetrate
the callous armor of my world’s
continue to burst outbound
unaffected by the cognac of appreciation
or the hemlock of arrestment.

These sharpened points
and finely woven cotton comforters
are words that will not die
because I am not yet dust.
But they will not rest where they belong
whether deep into the bull’s eye
or in the dresser drawer
or in the hearts of my close
and distant humanity
foiled again by uncherished though unguilty
eyeless, earless reality.

My words and so
many poets’ words
of arrows, socks and souls
will never find their heaven
or their hell.
They will forever dwell
in the purgatory of the lost
and will never come home.

—  This  was the second new poem I wrote since March 2008. Both were shared during my excellent encounter with Writers’ Bloc, starting 9:30ish at Trout Lily Cafe in lyrical downtown Springfield, and the recipients of copies distributed there seemed glad to get them.

BTW, My friend Delinda Chapman is featured artist at the Trout Lily gallery Wall o’ Talent and the paintings are worth your visit.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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Here is the first of two poems I wrote after a long poem hiatus.

From the Bowl With the Submerged Tiny Castle Resting on Sand
By Job Conger
written 4:52 pm, Friday, January 23, 2009

“How sad, my

“How sad, my

“How sad, my

“How sad, my

“How sad, my
wrote the gold
fish poet.

— I timed the quoted words with the second hand on my office clock, speaking only enough to fill three seconds without rushing or stretching. Considerable re-write from the original –“Have you ever considered how badly goldfish must feel because they forget everything that happened more than three seconds ago?” — was necessary.

Lines of three syllables each are intentional. I also understand that a goldfish — which, zoologists tell us, has a three-second memory is not likely to remember how to spell 11 words. This is a poem, friends and enemas.

It is not a report.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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During the Sunday news’hows, there was talk of moving the nastiest prisoners at “Gitmo” in Cuba to the Alcatraz Prison State Historic Site of California. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is no slouch, pointed out, Alcatraz is not a prison; it’s a tourist attraction. The merit to the idea, which Pelosi and others have not considered is the propaganda value of holding known terrorists in a tourist attraction. Who in the land of Persians and Arabs could be mad at the USA for holding criminal kindred in a tourist attraction? Only a few prisoner during the site’s former life as the most secure home for the incorrigible are known to have successfully escaped (or as they used to say in the White House, excaped) from that droll rock, and fewer, if any, are known to have made it to the mainland. On the surface, Alcatraz seems ideal for the job.

At first, soon after President Obama made known his intention to close the Cuban prison within a year, I thought the best option, after releasing those known to be “not really THAT guilty” to return to their homelands and depositing all but the reallyreally guilty in prisons located on stateside military bases, was to put the least-friendly of them on a slow boat to India. The boat, operated by remote control from a base in Colorado (where they navigate Predator drones to the “no terrorists land” between Afghanistan and Paki’ and deactivate known terrorists we can’t touch because it’s against international law and the policy of a respected, sovoreign, nation) might accidentally run aground on a sand bar (the irony would be incredible) thousands of miles from anywhere, and neither boat nor nastypersons would be seen again. After I finally wiped the smile off my face from that daydream. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I realized with Obama in the White House at the dawn of a new era of accountability, WE — meaning US — could no longer pass that buck and blame it on Dick Cheney. There must be a better way.

And there is.

The last foreigners to set up housekeeping in Wake Island southwest of the Hawaiian Islands, were elements of the Imperial Japanese Army. And things were no different then than now: there was a war going on. And the established residents there, US military and civilian operators of a Pan American Airways seaplane base, voiced strong objections to the new arrivals, just as it is likely the residents there today will oppose the arrival of the bottom of the nasty barrel.

So let’s get real. Wake Island is too far from the US mainland for even the hardiest prisoner to swim to freedom in the USA. We should appoint the worst of the nastiest to administrate the island after moving all legal citizens of the United States of America OFF the island. The worst should govern the least-worst of the nastiest and if they find a way to live in harmony there, supplied by food and water and DVDs dropped by parachute from 30,000 feet by C-17s out of Honolulu, we should reward them for finding away to accomplish something few Arab politicians have ever done: live in a way that serves their society instead of eroding and repressing it. If they succeed in this, say, over the course of the next 20 years or so, there should be tangible reward for their effort.

I would recommend moving them to Alcatraz.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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